Dangerous Missions

By Robert Lake
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Trucking and soldiering are not easy jobs, but combine the two and you have profiles in courage that have raised the image of our industry in ways that a public relations campaign never could. This month’s issue of Truckers News spotlights three truckers who went to Iraq. Their stories reflect much of what is good about the trucking industry.

You’ve probably heard about Thomas Hamill, the trucker who escaped from his captors in Iraq and was hailed as a hero upon his return. What you might not know is that he gave very few interviews to the press but was happy to talk to Truckers News. A reluctant hero, his story (page 24) underlines the real dangers facing American military and support personnel.

Illinois trucker Jeff Mills (page 23) also handled a truck in Iraq, sometimes transporting prisoners of war and ammunition. He’s happy to be home and says his company, Schneider National, supported him throughout the ordeal and guaranteed him his job upon return to the states.

El Paso trucker Ken Krueger (page 25) hauled cargo in the war and talks to Truckers News about the dangers. The money is great, he says, but he warns that the risks are not to be taking lightly even though preparation and safety training are included in the package deal for civilian drivers in Iraq.

Whatever you think about the war, these truckers – and hundreds of others serving in National Guard units around the country and overseas – show that no matter what is happening, transportation is always a necessity. Heroic stories like Hamill’s remind the rest of the country that the role of truckers as knights of the highway is as valid today as ever.

Those of you who are hauling goods across this country are also asked to step up to the plate and be the eyes and ears against continued terrorist threats here at home. In response to the summer terrorist warning issued by Attorney General John Ashcroft and FBI Director Robert Mueller, the Highway Watch program issued a call to all participants in the program.

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The alert informs members that terrorists may be planning large-scale attacks on American targets (possibly over a national holiday, sporting event or election) and provides them with current information to assist in preventing such an attack. Truckers who are not part of the Highway Watch program should do what they always do, call 911 or the local police and report anything suspicious.

I’ve no doubt about the patriotism of America’s truckers. I’m just glad the rest of the country has had an opportunity to read about the good guys for a change.

This July 4th, take a moment to reflect upon the meaning of freedom, its responsibilities and its cost.